The Electric Vehicle Council has cited Kia’s decision to withhold its new e-Niro all-electric SUV model from the Australian market as yet another argument for urgent policy reform in Australia.
As reported by The Driven, Kia announced this week that it would delay the introduction of the e-Niro into Australia, citing the Australian government’s lack of meaningful environmental regulations for vehicles.
The Electric Vehicle Council has said that now is the time for the federal government to act on transport policy, as Australia risks falling behind the rest of the world in the transition to electric vehicles.
“A country that can’t get its head around legislation the world moved on in the 1970s won’t be taken seriously by investors,” Electric Vehicle Council CEO Behyad Jafari said.
On deciding to delay the introduction of the e-Niro in Australia, Kia said that it had intended the vehicle to only be sold into markets with established legislation and policies in place to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector.
The Kia e-Niro, which was named the “Best Electric Car” for 2019 at the UK Business Car Awards would have provided another option in Australia for an affordable all-electric SUV, along side the Hyundai Kona.
“Unfortunately, the unambitious approach of our government will mean Australians continue to miss out on new transport tech while the rest of the world benefits,” Jafari added.
“Australian industry and Australian entrepreneurs are working hard to generate opportunities that are being squandered by our decision makers. Governments say they recognise the economic, health, environmental benefits of EVs, but that’s not reflected by our policy settings.”
The Electric Vehicle Council has called on the Australian Government to introduce meaningful fuel emissions standards for vehicles in Australia, along with increased support for the rollout of EV charging infrastructure.
In February, the Morrison government announced that it would develop a national electric vehicle strategy, but it is understood that the results of that strategy will not be known until mid-2020.
“We know people in Australia want to buy and drive electric vehicles,” Jafari said.
“But, we need better infrastructure to link our cities and major networks and we need the full range of new and exciting electric vehicles hitting out market.
“Both of these problems could be fixed by government quite swiftly.”
It is understood that Kia may have been preparing to launch the e-Niro into the Australian market to coincide with the 2020 Australian Open, of which Kia is a major sponsor.
The latest decision raises the prospect that the e-Niro may never be available for purchase in Australia, however Kia may still launch the e-Soul hatch as an alternative to the e-Nero.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.